Returned to Sara Ahmed's The Cultural Politic of Emotion today, and found these words particularly powerful:
"I want to suggest here, cautiously, and tentatively, that an ethics of responding to pain involves being open to being affected by that which one cannot know or feel. Such an ethics is, in this sense, bound up with the sociality or the ‘contingent attachment’ of pain itself.
The ethical demand is that I must act about that which I cannot know, rather than act insofar as I know. I am moved by what does not belong to me. If I acted on her behalf only insofar as I knew how she felt, then I would act only insofar as I would appropriate her pain as my pain, that is, appropriate that which I cannot feel […] it is the very assumption that we know how the other feels, which would allow us to transform their pain into our sadness. (Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion 30–31)
The call of such pain, as a pain that cannot be shared through empathy, is a call not just for an attentive hearing, but for a different kind of inhabitance. It is a call for action, and a demand for collective politics, as a politics based not on the possibility that we might be reconciled, but on learning to live with the impossibility of reconciliation, or learning that we live with and beside each other, and yet we are not as one." (Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion 39)?by